Domaine Marie et Florian Curtet Tonnerre de Gres Blanc 2019
Blend: 50% Jacquère, 50% Altesse
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
After many years of apprenticeship, Florian and Marie Curtet have risen as the successors to the dynamic Savoie producer, Jacques Maillet, who made his last vintage in 2015. They have christened their new venture Domaine Curtet, which is comprised of the same 5-hectare estate on the hillsides above the Upper Rhone River near Switzerland. The domaine holdings are highlighted by two distinct vineyard sites. The traditional grape varieties of Chautagne—gamay and pinot noir—are planted in the commune of Serrieres en Chautagne in the lieu dit Vignes du Signeur—or “The Vines of the Lord.” Nearby, in the village of Motz, the traditional Savoie grape varieties of mondeuse, jacquere, and altesse are found in the vineyard known locally as Cellier des Pauvres—or “Cellar of the Poor.” The couple farms their land biodynamically, with Florian proving to be a master at implementing teas and infusions as he cares for the land. They have adopted the spirit of Maillet, choosing to work “autrement” in the vineyard and the cellar. Their approach is devoutly non-interventionist, which has proven to be more freeing than restrictive, as the pair’s gregariousness and creativity echoes through every facet of their process—down to the dragonfly on the domaine’s labels, signifying the deft touch of nature they showcase in every bottle. The wines of Domaine Curtet exhibit a crystalline precision and purity–embodying the best of what the unique terroir has to offer.
Tucked up into the sheltered foothills of the Alps where conditions vary considerably from one spot to the next, the vineyards of Savoie are widely dispersed within three main growing districts. These are Seyssel, Bugey and general Savoie. Within these are 16 different cru vineyard areas.
The region boasts a large number of unique indigenous grapes, incidentally unrelated to any nearby regions’ varieties. The styles here tend toward organic and traditional. In the past, the dynamic summer and winter tourist population consumed most Savoie wine before it could leave the area but the recent interest in esoteric varieties and natural, artisan wine has brought a renewed interest to Savoie.
In Savoie's most northern vineyards near Lake Geneva, the Chasselas grape dominates. Moving south, the white grape known as Altesse (also sometimes called Roussette) is responsible for Roussette de Savoie as well as Roussette de Seyssel.
Just north of Chambéry the white, Jacquère grows in the cru of Jongieux, along with Altesse, and Chardonnay. In the cru of Chautagne, the red grapes Gamay, Pinot Noir, and, especially, the local Mondeuse do well.
Chambéry, once famous for its vermouth, contains the crus of Abymes, Apremont, Arbin, Chignin and Cruet.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.